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International Foundation Programmes: The right start to a UK degree

Getting the right start matters. This is especially pertinent for international students planning to embark on degree-level studies abroad. Meeting the necessary degree requirements, raising English language proficiency, developing subject knowledge, honing study skills and learning the ropes of an entirely new culture — all of this sets a study abroad adventure on a path to success.

The International Education Institute at the University of St Andrews offers pre-degree programmes that achieve this. Mwawasi Divine Kristy Mkamwasi, 18, from Kenya felt the International Foundation programme (IFP) was a “good fit” for her after checking out the different programmes available around the world. Students rated the university highly, as did her friends and acquaintances from home. “The students who I knew from my country were very happy with the university and with their experiences there,” she shares.

Today, she’s happy to be in a class with other international students and in one of the most picturesque towns in the country. “I really liked St Andrews because it is a beautiful town that is very conducive for learning,” she says, adding that she enjoys the spacious and well-equipped living spaces and entertainment resources on campus. “The sports centre is also a favourite place of mine to visit and it also offers fun classes like yoga, spin and Zumba.”

Soon, she’s set to join the thousands of students who start at the University of St Andrews as undergraduates every year. She’ll be part of a select group with a certain confidence, ready for degree-level academics in the best university in Scotland — second only to Oxford in the UK — and life in one of the most highly-rated study destinations today.

This group comprises of students who have successfully completed a pathway programme at the International Education Institute. The pre-degree programmes bridge the gap between high school and university for overseas students whose school-leaving qualifications are not recognised for direct entry onto University of St Andrews undergraduate degrees. Upon completion, pathway programme graduates progress directly onto undergraduate degrees at St Andrews.

The programmes are specifically tailored towards international students. From developing subject knowledge to sharpening academic English skills, pre-degree programmes at St Andrews provide the know-how for students to transition to university seamlessly. For the September 2021 intake, the following courses are offered:

  • IFP for Business – Management, Economics and Finance
  • IFP for Medicine
  • International Pathway to Medicine
  • International Year One Science
  • IFP for Social Sciences and Humanities

For Bohyun Bang, 21, from South Korea, her foundation programme experience opened up a whole new chapter in her life. “I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to be a university student in the UK and I knew that St Andrews especially has a very high reputation for International Relations – which is the subject I have wanted to study as my major,” the IFP Social Sciences and Humanities graduate explains.

At first, Bang was hesitant to apply for the IFP. She knew of St Andrews’s elite reputation. Plus, she had always planned to go to a university in her home country. By the time her IFP was about to end, however, she had put these doubts to rest. “I am very happy that I decided to apply, because the past year in St Andrews has been one of the best years in my life so far!” she enthuses.

Bang found the IFP challenging, but fulfilling. She got to attend and experience a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and classes. Tutors assigned university-level tasks, such as essay writing and completing various types of coursework. During her second semester, Bang even got to lead seminars on her own or in groups. As classes are small — there is typically a maximum of 16 students at any given time — Bang received personalised guidance from her tutors.

“Here, I would be given a particular topic to research on and present in front of the tutor and classmates, being the one to lead the class for that day,” Bang explains. “Although it was pretty stressful when preparing for the seminars, after each one, I found myself more confident about studying the subject as well as using English in front of a big group of people.”

The Institute is offering scholarships to up to five exceptional students planning to start a pre-degree programme in September 2021, and five more for January 2022 applicants. Each student will receive 2,000 pounds towards the cost of their tuition fee.

Eligible students who meet entry and visa requirements must submit a one-minute video as part of their scholarship application. This video is your opportunity to demonstrate your interest in your chosen subject and why you believe that your chosen IFP will help you to build on your high school education and prepare you for your future studies in the UK. For more information about the pre-degree September scholarships, click here.

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